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Monthly Archives: August 2017

National Cycle VStream Tall Touring Windscreen Review

I’ve found the stock windscreens on motorcycles just aren’t very good at their job. I’m 6′ 2″ tall and the screens on every motorcycle I’ve owned or ridden over the past 20 years seem to be setup for riders much shorter than me. They excel at creating a flow of rough air that hits somewhere between my neck and forehead. Even the Concours 14’s adjustable windscreen hasn’t been able to solve this problem. Now that I’ve had my Connie for 6 years, and have no plans to buy a new bike in the future, I thought I’d spend a little money to see if I could finally fix this issue.

After much research I landed on the VStream® Tall Touring Windscreen. My goal was to find a screen that would provide a clean-ish flow of air over the top of my head, make sure there was sufficient airflow during the summer to keep me cool, and provide decent protection in cooler temperatures. Weather protection in the rain was also at the top of my list. In short, I wanted a do-it-all windscreen for all seasons and riding conditions.  Its been 2 years since I purchased the VStream®, so I’ve given it a fair long term test.

VStream-stock

VStream® Tall Turing Windscreen left, stock windscreen right.

The Positive:

This windscreen is tall, that’s not just a marketing term in the title. At slightly over 2 ft. it’s practically a sail compared to the stock screen. In the highest position on the Connie, I can just see over the top (on straight roads). Coupled with the generous fairing on the Concours it creates a pocket of protection that the stock screen cannot even hope to compete with. When it’s raining, as long as I don’t stop, everything behind the screen (head, chest, shoulders, lap) stay bone dry.  I’ve ridden in some pretty decent storms over the last few years and been thankful for this level of protection.

Being almost as wide as it is tall (height: 24.10 in, width: 21 in.) I was concerned about the tall screen blocking too much air to keep me cool in the summer. This was not the case. The unique “V” shape of the screen creates a relatively clean flow of air over my helmet while allowing a stream of air to slip around the screen. Setting the height of the windscreen on the Connie at the 2nd pre-set position sends this stream of air right along and under my arms. The combination of the airflow over my head and along my sides also pulls air from my back. This is ideal for mesh jackets and those with underarm and back vents.

VS_VortexThe Nation Cycle website for the VStream® Windscreen explains this better:

“The typical airflow pattern of the wake from most windscreens is called a van Karman vortex. At speeds of 50-90 mph, the air swirls off the windscreen in an approximate 90-degree segment of rotation, hits the bottom of the rider’s neck on the way up, and curves off the shoulder at approximately 45 degrees.

We gave the VStream® its name for the shape it takes at the upper edge. The patented “V” shape is so quiet because it pushes this vortex out and away from the side of the rider’s head. The rider’s helmet then resides in still air, and the passenger’s environment is greatly improved as well.”

I can personally attest that these claims are accurate and true. With the adjustable screen on the Connie I can direct where the stream of air created by the “V” shape hits me and in essence control how cool or warm I want to be.  Great for summer riding but also very useful when the mercury starts to drop.

Installation was easy. The screen attached to the existing mounts on the Connie with no additional hardware needed. I had my old screen off and the new one installed in about 15 min., 10 of which was spent searching for my allen socket set.

The Negative: 

As I stated before this screen is tall. At highway speeds it flexes quite a lot. This does concern me regarding its longevity. My hope is that the polycarbonate material is strong enough to not crack where I feel it’s week spot is, the mounting screw holes. According to Nation Cycle, “All VStream® Windscreens are made from thick, durable polycarbonate with National Cycle’s exclusive Quantum® hardcoating or FMR hardcoating.” In two years of commuting and long highway trips I have seen no issues, but it’s still a concern for me.

The flexing can also disrupt the otherwise clean air flow produced by the screen. At highway speeds, in traffic, the disruption of air caused by other vehicles coupled with the flexing of the shield can create some buffeting and noise. No more than the stock shield, but it does defeat the special design of the screen. This is not an issue when riding back roads or at lower speeds at all.

Conclusion:

The VStream® Tall Touring Windscreen has all the features I was looking for when I started my search. It provides good weather protection, clean airflow, and good control of that airflow to keep me cool in the summer and warm in the spring and fall. I’m very happy with my purchase.

National Cycle offers the VStream® series windscreens in Sport, Sport Touring, and Tall Touring sizes to fit most motorcycles. Check out their entire catalog at NationalCycle.com. You can purchase VStream® windscreens from most online motorcycle stores. I bought mine from Revzilla for $179, not cheep but well worth the price.

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Posted by on August 31, 2017 in Gear Reviews

 

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Beginnings

A 1980’s Schwinn Tornado bicycle gave me my first taste of independence.  That black, orange, and yellow bike opened up a whole new world of possibilities to me. I could go farther, and get there faster. It gave me freedom to explore more of my neighborhood and town. Like most kids, everything in my life when I was young was time bound. There was always a curfew. Traveling faster meant I could explore more before it was time to come home. It wasn’t until I learned to drive a car that I experienced another leap in my understanding of time and distance the way I did when I was a kid on a bike. Learning to ride a motorcycle changed everything.

Riding has its rewards, but it also comes with consequences. My more adventurous friends and I commandeered an open field near our neighborhood when I was a kid. One summer we carved out BMX style dirt course there using tools “borrowed” from our dads. It was complete with long downhill runs, sharp turns, and dirt mound jumps that would rattle your teeth when you landed. While riding on this track I had my first physics lesson in inertia (i.e. when your bike stops abruptly, but you do not), though I wouldn’t know it by that name until later in High School. I did learn that it hurt and didn’t do much for keeping a bike in working order either. My friends and I spent summer afternoons repairing our bikes (and licking our wounds) from the punishment the track inflicted. I eventually graduated from the Tornado to a Schwinn Predator, complete with bar pads, hand breaks, and a bright chrome finish. Tinkering, upgrading, and working on our bikes in each others driveways set the stage for later when I’d find myself doing the same thing in my driveway on motorcycles. To this day I blame the chrome finish on the Predator for my attraction to cruisers early in my riding career.

In the late 1990’s my dad purchased a Suzuki Savage 650. The Savage was meant for my mother to learn to ride on, but she quickly decided being a passenger was enough excitement for her. My dad had recently fulfilled a life long dream of owning a Harley-Davidson and he wanted riding companions. His excitement at getting back into riding after many years was infectious and my sister and I caught the bug. She and I quickly took over the small motorbike and spent several Saturday’s with my dad in empty parking lots torturing the gearbox, lurching around, and running into curbs. After taking the motorcycle safety course my sister decided that riding wasn’t for her so I claimed the Savage as my own.  I went over to my parents house, where the bike lived, as often as I could once I passed my riding test. I even “borrowed” the bike a few times when my parents where out-of-town. I was hooked.

The Suzuki was not only the bike I learned to ride on, it was the fist bike I crashed on. Being a new rider I was over-confident and thought I understood the mechanics and physics of riding (see my previous lesson on inertia). It only took a cool, damp night and a steel manhole cover to show me how little I knew. My back tire hit the wet metal circle while as I leaned over coming around a bend to merge into traffic. It was just enough to lose traction. I slid along the road trailing the bike and we both came to an abrupt stop at the curb across the street. I was lucky (at this stage of my riding), as I was wearing a full face helmet, gloves, and a jacket. After checking myself out and finding no serious injuries I surveyed the damage to the bike. It was mostly roadworthy. I was close to my parents garage, so I got up, dusted off, and limped home. If you’ve ever wrecked a vehicle that belongs to someone else, especially your parents, it doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or 60, you know that special kind of dread that just sits in the pit of your gut. It is unlike any other fear. Having put more than my fair share of dents and scrapes on my parents cars as a teenager, I was all too familiar with this feeling. I figured my days of borrowing the bike were over. I’m glad that wasn’t the case. After convincing my mom that I was OK, my dad I went to the garage to look over the bike. The forks were a little askew, the foot peg and clutch lever were a little bent. A few minutes with a 5 lbs. sledge-hammer and a bit of muscling the bars and forks back into alignment was all it took to get the bike back in order. I felt like I was a kid again, sitting in a driveway, fixing a bike that had taken some lumps because I thought I was a better rider than I was. It took a little longer for me to repair my parents trust than it did to fix the bike. Visits with the Savage where to be supervised for a while.

When I started living on my own in my 20’s, it took time to realize that I was truly “on my own”. I didn’t have to call home if I was going out late. I didn’t have to tell anyone where I was going when I left. This realization came to me in stages. Little boundaries that I tested and pushed at until I understood where my limits where. My riding experience evolved much the same way. First with hour-long trips on my fathers Savage, then to increasingly longer trips on other bikes I’ve owned. I slowly expanded my riding from day trips on the weekends, to commuting to work, and eventually to long multi-day overnight trips. The more I pushed and explored how far I could ride the father and more I wanted to ride. Understanding that my motorcycle was more than a machine but a means to explore and experience my surroundings in a new and exciting way. I wish I’d understood that earlier in my riding. I’d forgotten what I learned as a kid when I started riding bicycles, I just needed to remember it. This seems to be the case with a lot of things I knew when I was 8 and had to relearn as an adult.

Since my first riding trips I’ve logged tens of thousands of miles commuting, weekend riding, taking road trips, and camping trips. I still get just as excited to ride today as I did the first time I went on a solo ride. I finally understand that riding a motorcycle is more than just puttering around back roads on a Sunday morning. It is a literal vehicle for adventure, for experiencing the world in a way that cannot be duplicated.  When I ride my motorcycle I am part of the environment I am passing through. I can feel the weather, smell the trees, connect with the road and the scenery in a unique way. It’s hard as you get older to have new experiences. They come fast when you’re young because everything is new. Riding a motorcycle gives me the chance to reconnect with my 8-year-old self. To remember what it felt like to ride through my neighborhood and push against boundaries searching for new adventures.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Motorcycling, Uncategorized

 

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